AI used to detect breast cancer risk

Breast screeningImage copyright Getty Images Image caption AI could help prevent unnecessary surgeries, researchers say

US scientists are using artificial intelligence to predict whether breast lesions identified from a biopsy will turn out to cancerous.

The machine learning system has been tested on 335 high-risk lesions, and correctly diagnosed 97% as malignant.

It reduced the number of unnecessary surgeries by more than 30%, the scientists said.

One breast cancer specialist said that the research was "useful".

The machine learning system was trained on information about such lesions, the system looks for patterns among a range of data points, such as demographics, family history, biopsies and pathology reports.

"Because diagnostic tools are so inexact, there is an understandable tendency for doctors to over-screen for breast cancer," said Regina Barzilay, MIT's Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a breast cancer survivor herself.

"When there's this much uncertainty in data, machine learning is exactly the tool that we need to improve detection and prevent over-treatment."

First study

In the US alone, 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year, but when cancers are found early enough they can often be cured.

Mammograms play a crucial role in detecting such cancers but they also throw up false positives, such as lesions that appear suspicious.

Once operated on, many such lesions turn out to be benign.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to apply machine learning to the task of distinguishing high-risk lesions that need surgery from those that don't," said Constance Lehman, professor at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Breast Imaging Division at MGH's Department of Radiology.

"We believe this could support women to make more informed decisions about their treatment, and that we could provide more targeted approaches to health care in general."

Debashis Ghosh, a consultant breast surgeon based at the Royal Free London hospital, said the technology was good but may be of more use in the US than in the UK.

"Here we have less than 5% of patients who have these surgeries, whereas it is 30% in the US.

"We try to make a definite diagnosis before we operate but this technology is definitely useful where there is a lack of expertise."

The research is being conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and Massachusetts General Hospital....

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Breast cancer warning after man's 'impossible' diagnosis


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Media captionPortadown man talks of breast cancer shock

When you think of breast cancer, you think of a form of cancer that affects only women.It doesn't.

While breast cancer in men is rare it's still an issue for the 10 men on average who are diagnosed with it every year in Northern Ireland.

Ian Cranston, 70, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.Two weeks later he had a mastectomy.

The Portadown father-of-two was given the all-clear in June and has decided to speak publicly to make men aware that it's a cancer that doesn't just affect women.

He said "men also need to check their breasts for changes".

Inverted nipple

In May, Ian's wife Elizabeth noticed something wrong when he got out of the shower.

Image copyright SPL Image caption About 10 men in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with breast cancer each year

She told him he had an inverted nipple and needed to see his GP.

"I didn't know what that meant," said Ian.

"Men can't get breast cancer, I don't have to go to the doctor.

"I wasn't aware I had breasts.This is my chest, men don't have breasts, it's impossible," he added.

Eventually his wife persuaded him to go to his GP, who referred him to Craigavon Area Hospital.

Image caption Ian Cranston alongside breast care specialist nurse Annie Treanor

The diagnosis stunned him.

"Men having breast cancer, I couldn't believe it," he said.

"I couldn't do or say anything.My wife Elizabeth cried."

Four days later Ian said he "just broke".

He has decided to help try and raise awareness of the disease, saying that if his speaking out helped one man, it would be worth it.

"I can understand where women are coming from because I've had breast cancer myself," he said.

Signs and symptoms

In the past 23 years, 166 men have been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the NI Cancer Registry at Queen's University.

While the majority of men diagnosed (99) are aged between 60 and 80, 26 men were under the age of 40.Forty were 80 years old or older.

Annie Treanor, a Southern Trust breast care specialist nurse, said:"Many people don't know that men get breast cancer because they aren't aware that men have breasts.

"But men do have a small amount of breast tissue behind their nipples and this is where breast cancer can develop," she added.

She said signs and symptoms to look out for are similar to that of a female and include:...

  • An inverted nipple
  • A lump anywhere within the breast tissue
  • Nipple discharge
  • Ulceration or swelling

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Concern over norovirus increase by Betsi Cadwaladr health board

A microscopic photograph of the norovirusImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Norovirus costs the UK economy £15m every year, Bangor University researchers say

The largest health board in Wales is urging people to be alert to the symptoms of norovirus, amid concerns over a rise in cases this year.

Last November, a major outbreak of the winter vomiting bug hit Wrexham Maelor Hospital and two community hospitals run by Betsi Cadwaladr health board.

The outbreak closed nine hospital wards in north Wales alone.

The sickness bug costs the UK economy £15m every year, according to researchers at Bangor University.

More than 130 patients were affected in north Wales last November and the outbreak resulted in 192 "lost bed days" - occasions where beds were unavailable to new patients.

Tracey Cooper, assistant director of nursing for infection prevention at the health board, said there were already reports of norovirus cases at care homes in north Wales.

"Estimates of the number of people affected are difficult to get because most people who have norovirus stay at home," she said.

'2.9m cases annually'

"We monitor what's happening in the southern hemisphere through the summer, because their summer is our winter and vice versa.

"What we've seen this summer is they've had increasing numbers of norovirus and also increasing numbers of flu and very severe flu.

"Usually what they get in our summer, we then get in winter.

"So we are expecting to see an increased number of people affected by norovirus and an increasing number of people with flu and severe flu."

Researchers at Bangor University in Gwynedd have estimated there are 2.9m cases of norovirus in the UK annually.

They calculate the cost to the economy is £15m every year, although other estimates place the cost much higher.

Humans do not develop immunity to norovirus, meaning people can catch it repeatedly.

It spreads easily, and can be transferred to different surfaces by touch....

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Mental health care for new mothers in Wales 'unacceptable'

Pregnant womanImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Wales' own mother and baby unit was closed in 2013

Calls have been made for a specialist mother and baby unit to open in Wales to help those suffering mental illness.

The lack of in-patient care for women suffering from severe perinatal mental health illnesses has been described as unacceptable by a committee of AMs.

The Children and Young People's committee of the assembly supported calls for the re-opening of a specialist mother and baby unit (MBU).

Wales' own unit was closed in 2013 with mothers sent to units in England.

The Welsh Government said it was committed to providing specialist inpatient care.

The committee's report recommended that a MBU be established in south Wales to provide an all-Wales service.

Given this may not be suitable for mothers and families in mid and north Wales, the committee also called for the Welsh Government to discuss with NHS England setting up a cross-border service in north east Wales.

Medical guidelines state women who need inpatient care for mental health should normally be admitted to a MBU.

Beds are sought in units in England but officials told AMs the process was fraught with difficulties.

About 60-80 women a year are also treated in adult psychiatric wards, the report said, but AMs heard the wards were "not suitable" to treat perinatal mothers given it requires the separation of mother and baby.

"We believe that the provision of inpatient care to mothers with severe cases of perinatal mental illness is wholly inadequate," the report said.

"While we accept that the most specialist of services will sometimes require patients to travel, the current uncertainty of arrangements with England is unacceptable," the report said.

It added:"To minimise the distances women and their families need to travel to access the care they need, specialist in-patient provision needs to be developed within Wales."

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Medical guidelines state women who need inpatient care should normally be admitted to a specialist unit

The Welsh Government has announced £1.5m for community-based services in the Welsh NHS - but the committee heard that services among its seven health boards varied.

Staci Sylvan, from Carmarthen, has suffered with mental health problems after both of her pregnancies.

She told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme[1]:"I went from being really happy to have a baby to not really knowing who I was, what I was doing, feeling very scared and not knowing where I could go for help.

"It did develop into having hallucinations after a couple of weeks."

She said she felt health visitors were not properly trained to recognise her symptoms and she reached "crisis point" before being offered a stay at the MBU unit at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales - which has since closed.

'Developing options'

Sally Wilson, 36, who lives near Bangor, Gwynedd, suffered with post-partum psychosis[2] and was treated in the community after she was discharged from an adult psychiatric unit.

Ms Wilson was offered a MBU bed in Manchester but little information was given to her about the benefits of such treatment.

"I think ideally my family and friends should have had enough information to make an informed decision about whether I should have gone into a mother and baby unit, and enough staff and resources to have specialist perinatal mental health professionals working with people that are that ill," Ms Wilson said.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said:"The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee has been developing options this year to improve perinatal mental healthcare in Wales and we are committed to providing specialist inpatient care in Wales.

"There are now community teams in each health board in Wales," she added....

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